A recipe to pine after

Pineapple of my eye: Pineapples are a sign of hospitality, warmth, welcome, good cheer and friendship.

Over the years, the pineapple has been a sign of hospitality, warmth, welcome, good cheer and friendship. When a fad for pineapples first caught on in the royal courts of 17th-century Europe, they were the ultimate symbol of wealth. Colonial America picked up on the pineapple theme, and it still thrives today. In the Fujian dialect, the word “pineapple” is ong lai, and translates as “prosperity has arrived!”

Having just finished reading Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, I was fascinated by the description of the sumptuous food served at the extravagant dinner parties and by all of the descriptive accounts of restaurant fare. But, what especially intrigued me were the famous pineapple tarts of Tyersall Park (the mansion owned by the family’s matriarch). The many references to these pineapple tarts throughout the books made me want a sample.

PINEAPPLE TART COOKIES

Pineapple Filling:

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained well

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1¼ – 1½ tsp. cornstarch

In a medium pot on low to medium heat, cook the well-drained pineapple and sugar until liquid evaporates. Stir constantly to avoid burning until mixture is lightly golden. Stir in the cornstarch.

Cool completely or make ahead and refrigerate for a few days until ready to bake.

Pastry:

1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 egg yolks

3½ cups flour

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the condensed milk until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, and beat well to combine.

Add the flour and mix to form the dough. If dough sticks to your hands, add a little more flour gradually until it does not.

Egg Wash:

1 egg yolk

1 tsp. condensed milk

In a small bowl, mix together the yolk and milk. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pinch off dough (makes approximately 3½ dozen tarts) and roll into small balls, about 1½ inches in diameter.

Using the palm of your hand, flatten ball into a 2½-inch circle.

Place 1/3 teaspoon full of pineapple filling into the middle of the dough circle.

Fold the dough up and around the pineapple filling, gently rolling it into a ball, as you would roll a meatball. Repeat.

Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet (they don’t expand too much), and paint the tops with the egg wash mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container.

Besides the pumpkin bread, gingerbread and cranberry bread, change it up a bit this year, and make some pineapple nut bread. Bake and bring a pineapple treat to your next gathering or party, and share some sunshine.

PINEAPPLE NUT BREAD

Lightly grease two 8½ x 4½ x 2½-inch loaf pans.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Topping:

3 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle 1½ tsp. of the topping into the bottom of each prepared pan. Set prepared pans aside, and set aside remaining topping.

Batter:

3½ cups flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

1½ cups walnuts or pecans, chopped

6 Tbsp. butter

1½ cups brown sugar, firmly packed

3 eggs

1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, include juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Stir in nuts. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar.

Add eggs and beat until smooth.

Stir in the pineapple and vanilla.

Add the flour and nut mixture and stir to combine.

Spoon batter into prepared pans, smooth top, and sprinkle with the remaining topping.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until tests done.

Cool slightly, then remove from pans to cool on wire rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the North­east Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)

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